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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mr. G.O. Graphic

When I visited the Disney studio lot in Burbank for the first time in 1978, I noticed a panel holding a row of nice shadow boxes with paper cutouts explaining the process of animation. I later learned that these were done by legendary Disney animator Bill Justice.

Originally situated just below eye level on the left of the entrance to hallway 1D in the Animation Building, the hallway of the Gods--or the Kings, depending on who is relaying the story (left image), it has since moved up one floor to just left of hallway 2A on the south-east end of the main corridor, a few inches lower than before, something that seems to reflect the sentiments of the company through the nineties. The wood paneling has also been painted white which can be seen in the right two images which I took last week.
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The boxes are quite elaborate little works of art that explain the process of animation from story, sound recording, animation, ink & paint, background, camera and editing to projection. They were supposedly created to explain the process in a simple way to visitors to the studio, thereby making extended disruptions unnecessary.
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It is very possible that you are familiar with the images, as the boxes were pictured in a Mondadori-originated comic album, and more importantly, they were based on artwork presented in the important August 1963 issue of National Geographic (left image), the magazine with the great article by Robert de Roos, a Stanford alumnus of the same year as Ollie Johnston and James Algar. The article has early images of Walt and a fun fold-out map of Disneyland, and also pictures of Walt's suite above the Disneyland Fire Station and two spreads of Mr. G.O. Graphic explaining the process of animation!
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The artwork in the magazine as well as in the boxes use Archimedes from the 1963 feature film The Sword in the Stone as example.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Mark Sonntag says...

They were also used in DISNEY'S WONDERFUL WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE book series. If I remember correctly, in the volume containing the index.

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 7:54:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous ken.d says...

When I was 8 years old ('72) I had a neighbourhood buddy who owned the "DISNEY WONDERFUL WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE" series of books. I would visit often and pour over the one book that had the photos of these shadow boxes. I was fascinated by the "magical" process of animation....I felt that if I analyzed the images enough I would uncover the secrets of my favourite art form at the time.
Years passed...and it wasn't until about a year ago that I was on the second floor of the Animation Building on Buena Vista and walked by these little "boxes" on the hallway wall.
Well needless to say, my eyes popped out of my head. I couldn't believe it.
They brought back some pretty good memories of that innocent love for animation.

Ken Duncan

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:50:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Michael Sporn says...

The first time I got to visit the Disney lot the studio was at the height of production, rushing to finish, on Pete's Dragon and they wouldn't let anyone upstairs. They did allow me to visit the first floor to look at these tableaux. They were vastly inferior to what I hoped to see and didn't get much attention from me at the time.
(I did get to see the I&P department, though and visit the set of Pete's Dragon's cave.)

Thanks for posting these. They're worth a second look. Especially since I'm an enormous fan of Bill Justice's work.

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 5:37:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Zartok-35 says...

That was pretty cool.
If they did a diorama for today's process, they'd just have to put a computer on a platform!

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 4:49:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Kevin Kidney says...

I'm glad to know the dioramas are safe and can still be enjoyed upstairs.

When I was 11 or 12 in the late '70s, my brother and I had a subscription to National Geographic's "WORLD" Magazine for kids. One issue featured a revised tour of the animation dept with Mr. G.O.G. - similar to the '63 National Geographic illustrations, but updated to "The Rescuers!" Background artist Goofy paints the Devil's Bayou riverboat, and, naturally, the film is being screened in the final tableaux.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:43:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous PaulBunyan says...

The description of the role of the Layout artist and Background artist on box 5 is the clearest summary I have seen of the work of these arists and what part each had in the look of the finished film.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 3:23:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous George Taylor says...

Wow!

Thanks for sharing the images and the story of your first visit!

Friday, May 22, 2009 at 6:59:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Chris Merritt says...

Those are great! Thanks for sharing...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 9:01:00 PM PDT  

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